Beside You In Time: Moments That Make Sports More Than A Game

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IJuly 23, 2008

Sure, somebody keeps score.  Stats are kept.  Right now there is probably someone, somewhere looking at a baseball box score as you read this.

But in the grand scheme of things, scores, stats, and standings are simply a microcosm of what sports are really about.

What are sports really about?  Simple.

The Moments.

Moments that will stand forever.  Moments that have grown men hugging and high-fiving each other.  Moments that have fans and non-fans alike weeping tears.  Moments that define sports.

In part one of the series, we look at moments that will be etched in our hearts forever.  And they aren't always on the list for the feat that was accomplished—but for how they were accomplished, why they were accomplished, and who accomplished them.

Ray Bourque Wins Stanley Cup

After over twenty seasons patrolling the blue line as the face of the franchise in Boston, Ray Bourque was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche in the year 2000 for a shot at the elusive Stanley Cup he had been chasing his whole career.

In the first year, he and the Avs fell short of their goal, but in 2001 they wouldn't be denied.  One of the top moments in sports history, as Joe Sakic, being the class act he is, immediately turned and handed the cup to Bourque, tears flowing from the eyes of his wife and children as Ray finally hoisted Lord Stanley's Mug.

Saku Koivu Returns to the NHL Following a Battle with Cancer

In September of 2001, Saku Koivu was flying home from his native Finland when he said he was feeling ill, and was vomiting a lot.  After getting tests done by the Canadiens' doctors, it was revealed Koivu was battling cancer.

In what was one of the most emotional moments in Montreal Canadiens history, Koivu, who was expected to miss the entire season, made a miraculous return at the end of the year.  The usually loud Montreal crowd did not disappoint, giving Koivu an eight-minute standing ovation, and a moment no one will ever forget.

Rocket Richard Steps on the Ice at the Forum One Last Time

Does it bother me as a Leafs fan that there is Montreal Canadiens back to back on this list?  No.  Does it surprise you?  Maybe.  

No matter your alligiance, everyone can appreciate this moment.  Montreal, an original-six team was closing it's original-six building, the Montreal Forum.

Home to some of the most famous, historic games in NHL history, its ice and hallowed walls had seen some of the best the NHL has ever seen.  Including Maurice "Rocket" Richard.  

Before the final game at the forum, the Canadiens had a ceremony to honour the arena, and all of the greats that had skated on the ice.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins the Pepsi 400

In February of 2001, Dale Earnhardt was tragically killed in an accident at Daytona Internation Speedway.  The world's most famous track had taken the world's most popular driver.

In July of that year, NASCAR returned to the famous track, which now carried a certain stigma to it, since the death of Dale Sr.

Every fan had their favorite driver, and was cheering for them, to be sure.  But in the back of their mind, every fan watching that night thought to themselves, "How cool would it be if Dale Jr won this thing?"

In a storybook ending, that question quickly turned into reality.  And in a moment that couldn't have been scripted better, Dale Jr's teammate Michael Waltrip finished second, right behind Junior, who was victorious in his first race back to the place his father was taken.

What followed was an emotional celebration.

Michael Waltrip Wins the Daytona 500

I had a tough time deciding whether to post this video, because it was the race in which Dale Earnhardt Sr had his life taken.  

Still, I think this is one of most memorable moments in sports for a whole other reason.

Everyone wants to see their brother succeed, and be happy.  Even if you aren't a fan of NASCAR, you can relate to that.

In 2001, Michael Waltrip, who had been searching for his first points win ever in NASCAR, ended an eleven-year losing streak.

Ask Mikey, and he'll tell you it was worth the wait.

Waltrip rose to the occasion, winning NASCAR's biggest race.  There was however, one other heart-tugging twist.  His older brother Darrel was doing play-by-play that day.  

What occured in the final laps of the 2001 Daytona 500 were unscripted moments that are what sports are all about.

Clay Buckholz No Hitter
Jon Lester No Hitter

I couldn't find any actual footage of these, only amateur cell phone vids, but the magic is still there.

First there was Clay, who threw a no-hitter for Boston in 2007.  Then there was Jon Lester earlier this year.

Buckholz was a rookie with the Bo Sox, and lit up the usually energetic Fenway crowd by throwing a no-hitter.

Lester—well, let's just say there couldn't have been a better story if Hollwood had written it.  Lester is a 24-year-old cancer survivor who had his career temporarily derailed by the terrible disease.

Tiger Woods Win the 2006 Open Championship

Love Tiger Woods or hate him, this is a moment that I was watching live on TV as it happened, and it will live with me forever.

We've all lost a loved one, someone who was very close to us.  We have all been in this spot, we can all relate.  

As Tiger Woods competed in his second tournament since the death of his father, Woods was a force.

No doubt it was on his mind all day, stepping onto the course his father had watched him compete at times before.  

As he sank the winning putt, a gimme, the emotion completely overcame Woods, and everyone watching.  Myself included.

Mats Sundin Scores Career Goal 500

You just knew I was going to include this right?  You had to!  In an early-season game against the Calgary Flames, team captain Mats Sundin scored his third goal of the game—in overtime, shorthanded.  

It was the 500th career goal in the Big Swede's career.  For someone who has worked so hard, and gotten virtually nothing in return from Toronto in terms of significant Cup runs, it was nice to see Mats, one of the most unselfish men in the game, get a personal accolade like this.

Canada Defeats USA 5-2 to Win Gold at the Olympics:

February 24, 2002.  Although it wasn't nearly as impactful in terms of world politics and things like that, the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City was my generation's "Summit Series."

The rival Americans, on home soil, standing in team Canada's way of a gold medal—something they hadn't had their hands on in fifty years.

Canada prevailed 5-2 in the game, defeating the Americans and winning the gold, and the heart of a nation, who had long waited to taste victory on an international scale.

Ryan Smyth Returns to Edmonton

Not the best quality video or anything, but really it's the only one out there.  After being traded at the deadline a year before, Smyth decided not to return to Edmonton in the offseason, instead signing with the Colorado Avalanche.  

It was the first time in 12 years that Smyth, a heart-and-soul Alberta-born boy, skated on Rexall Centre ice not wearing the Oiler colours.

What followed was a fitting, emotional tribute from Edmonton fans that touched everyone from Ryan Smyth to his wife in the stands.

So that is it.  The first installment of Beside You In Time.  I hope, if this is successful, the next installment will come in a few weeks time.  In the meantime, feel absolutely free to add your own videos in the comment section featuring sports moments you will never forget.

Also I know a lot of these were hockey related, and I didn't mean it to happen that way, it just did.  I basically thought of these off the top of my head, and which ever ones came to mind first, I wrote in.  Feel free to suggest ideas for future editions of B.Y.I.T.